SO there we are. The Free State Arts Festival is over for another year. And, by the time you read this, most of the rubbish will have been rounded up, cleared away, and dumped on some refuse site to create another growing environmental problem.
There were other problems too. I’m thinking in particular of the utterly atrocious behaviour of trade union members causing radical disruption during performances at the Sand du Plessis Theatre. There is something monumentally distasteful about bringing fear and aggression into the lives of innocent children, who were meant to be relishing the delights of a magical event. There are proper channels for union members to express their grievances, and they are more than aware of those processes. Violence begets violence. Legal consequences should follow such antisocial behaviour.
The book festival was wide-ranging and most enlightening. What was especially interesting for me was that, as I said last time, the guest writer was the wonderful Australian novelist Lyn Hughes. It would have been nice to have a wonderfully large audience to listen to her. Instead, she faced a meagre group of enthusiastic listeners. Perhaps this underwhelming response may be due, in part, to a wider social problem: the almost complete absence of a reading culture.
Inevitably, there were dozens of souls wandering about with oily miniature pagodas of chips-on-a-stick. There was a new variation on the idea of grub on a stick, with the plentiful evidence of waffles-on-a-stick, the dribbling oil of chips giving way to oozing chocolate. So I am hoping the idea will develop and expand by next year’s festival; I’m looking forward to having a full English breakfast – two eggs, four rashers of bacon, three slices of fried tomatoes, several large dollops of mushrooms, two slices of brown toast, butter, and marmalade – on a stick. Presumably, it would need to be a fairly substantial stick, but what the hell. Just think how many people I’d be able to dribble and